Posts Tagged ‘ps3’

It’s only been a couple of months and 2010 is already shaping up to be one of the best ever for gamers. If your wallet hasn’t already been emptied, Electronic Arts and development studio DICE have tossed yet another videogame on the pile that can’t be missed. Battlefield: Bad Company 2 ups the intensity and visual prowess of its predecessor, while still delivering one of the most compelling multiplayer games around.

If you were to buy Bad Company 2 solely for the single-player campaign, you might come away a bit disappointed. That’s not to say it’s particularly bad in any way, but it doesn’t feel impressive enough to stand on its own as a great experience. Once again, the multiplayer game is the star of the Battlefield show.

Ultimate Edition Content

The situation with the Ultimate Edition of Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is pretty simple. If you already have a copy of Bad Company 2, you’ll likely want to skip this release. However, if you were someone who was hesitant to pick up DICE’s latest high-quality creation because a little game called Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 was still spinning in your disc drive, then Ultimate Edition is certainly worth your time. Keep reading for the reasons why.

For sixty bucks players get what essentially amounts to the full Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Limited Edition experience (which is to say you get a few weapon and vehicle upgrades along with some fresh maps for multiplayer) as well as the Onslaught co-op mode DLC and the beloved downloadable title Battlefield: 1943.Sadly none of the content in Ultimate Edition is new in any way. Instead, the real attraction of the package is that you get all of this great Battlefield: Bad Company 2 content in one box. It’s a bit of an annoyance that you have to enter in three different download codes on Xbox 360 (two on PS3) to get your hands on everything, but that shouldn’t be a surprise given EA’s new initiative to try to bolster new-game sales through the use of one-time-use codes.

As far as the content itself, everything is just as it was when it was originally released. Given that everything you’ll find here earned high marks in our eyes when it first dropped into the hands of consumers, there’s nothing to knock. Battlefield: 1943 still has an active online following so I never had trouble quickly finding a game. I did encounter a bit of lag which is strange considering I was playing on IGN’s speedy connection, but it dissipated once I switched games. The same goes for Onslaught and the core Bad Company 2 gameplay, which is as enjoyable as ever.

All in all it’s a little disappointing not to get some fresh content in this supposed “Ultimate Edition” but it’s tough to argue with the sheer abundance of quality that you’ll find under this relatively modest (when you consider the fact that you get a free fifteen dollar downloadable game) sixty-dollar price tag. Again, if you played Bad Company 2 when it originally launched then there really isn’t enough original (or any at all) stuff to warrant spending the sixty bucks again, but if you skipped out on DICE’s second iteration of this popular series and want to know what all the hubbub was about, BF: BC2 Ultimate Edition is your answer.

The single-player campaign follows the story of a rag-tag bunch of soldiers as they traipse around the world on the hunt for a mythical weapon of mass destruction which absolutely must not fall into the hands of the Russians. It’s a typical story of unlikely heroes as they attempt to save the world, and it will take you across a great variety of locations that range from frozen mountains to densely packed jungles.

These gorgeous locales are the first thing that will spring out at you as you begin the fight. The vistas and skyboxes look nearly photorealistic in many situations, and DICE did a wonderful job blending the particle effects and game objects in the foreground with the more static backdrops. The result is a sense of depth that few videogame worlds can offer.

Things become more impressive yet when the action kicks in. Returning from the last Bad Company game are nearly fully destructible environments. If an enemy soldier is holed up in a second-story bedroom taking potshots at you, all you have to do is send a rocket at that wall and he’ll either wind up dead or fully exposed. The same line of thinking applies to just about anything you see – send enough firepower at it and you can watch it crumble.

Once you’re done ogling the smoke trails or mountain ranges in the distance, you’ll start to notice that Bad Company 2 has taken a few cues from the Call of Duty franchise. The last Battlefield game was the first to introduce a fully fleshed out storyline and it stumbled a bit in the process. The humor was goofy and over the top, the open mission design was a bit too open, and everything seemed coated in a dense fog. A lot has changed and improved for the sequel.

The big change comes with a more streamlined and cinematic approach to the action. The dialogue is less overtly inane, though it does offer its fair share of humor, and the level design feels more straightforward. While the last Bad Company game couldn’t hold my attention, this one kept me interested and having fun from start to finish.

It shouldn’t come as any surprise that this Battlefield game has some great mechanics. The guns react well, and sound fantastic. The vehicles handle smoothly and really do a great job of making you feel like the king of the battlefield. The instant-respawns and med kit injections of the last Bad Company have been replaced by the more standard checkpoints and regenerative health bar and that makes the challenge of war feel more realistic.

To top things off, the AI squad mates at your side act like real soldiers in battle. They’ll press the attack while you flank and hold off the enemy while you duck behind cover to recuperate. Many games slap you in a squad of largely ineffective soldiers and let you do all of the heavy lifting. Bad Company 2 is a refreshing change of pace in this regard.

Of course, if you want to start nitpicking, there are plenty of instances to call out. Some of the details and little pieces of the environment stream into view a bit late. There still are no arms drawn on screen when driving a vehicle, causing a poltergeist-like steering wheel to move on its own. On the Xbox 360 version, slow loading from the disc causes the player to be locked out for as much as five seconds from throwing grenades or using the knife when picking up a new weapon or changing kits (this issue went away when installing the game onto a hard drive).

These are mostly small complaints and, for me, the campaign’s only real troubles rest with the presentation and pacing. The B-Company (known as Bravo Two in this game) squad returns with you filling the shoes of Preston Marlowe. At your side is a crew of largely one-dimensional characters who are good for a laugh every now and then. This cast exists mainly to deliver one-liners and to direct you through the battlefield to the next objective. It’s hard to even think of them as people after watching them take a rocket propelled grenade to the face and then get up and go right back into the fight.

Though the action has been streamlined, it feels like Bad Company 2 just missed the “epic” feeling that it seems the developers were going for. Part of the problem is in the direction of the cutscenes, but mostly I feel like it rests with the non-stop high-intensity approach to gameplay. In a given level, you can do everything from sniping soldiers to manning a turret on the side of a helicopter to calling in air strikes – all in rapid succession. You’re something of a Rambo super-soldier, well versed in every facet of war. With the constant action, it feels like there is very little tension building outside of the game’s opening moments. There’s tons of variety to the gameplay and all of it is a great deal of fun, but it doesn’t quite come together to be a top-tier experience.

And with such a frantic campaign pace, it is over in short order. I blew through the game in just a few evenings of lazy play, probably clocking in under six hours. A collectible weapon system does offer a reason to go back for a second or third run, but this isn’t the kind of campaign you’ll be returning to again and again.

For many, the shortcomings in the campaign won’t matter one bit. These people come for the multiplayer online game, and that’s where Bad Company 2 delivers. Here the destructible environments of the campaign take on new meaning. Your target might be waiting inside a shack. An enemy squad may be using a tower as a staging point. This can all change with just a few well placed explosives as you literally level the playing field. It adds an extra tier of strategy to the game as you struggle to work through extended fights, adapting your approach to the fight as the world around you crumbles.

That’s just the first level of strategic planning this shooter offers those that work well together. Battlefield has long been known and adored by gamers as the franchise that offers epic, large-scale online fights and plenty of vehicles to take into battle. That tradition continues here. Personally, I’ve always held it in such high regard because of how it is inherently team-based. The very layout of the game is designed to encourage players to work together, straight down to awarding extra points for working with your teammate.

Little squads can be created, segmenting larger teams into strike forces which can each play a specific role. Then within that squad, players can choose between four load-out kits that range from the light machinegun toting medic to the heavy weapon specialist engineer. Each has its own weapons and unique tools that allow you to set yourself up as a small but integral part in the team’s success. It’s a game that requires a cool head and open lines of communication just as much as it does a deft hand, and that just makes the victories that much sweeter.

What struck me as most impressive with Bad Company 2 is how flexible the multiplayer game is. The class system allows you to choose what your approach to battle will be. It’s the maps and modes included in this package that allow you to choose exactly what kind of game you want to play. There is a huge difference between the giant and extended team Rush games – an attack and defend mode which plays out across expansive maps and features vehicles heavily — and the tighter Squad Deathmatch games which can feel just like your standard frantic and close-quarters shooter. If you care for something in between, you can just hop into a Conquest game to try your hand at the classic Battlefield fight over specific areas controlled by raising and lowering flags. Regardless of your mood, it feels like Bad Company 2 has something for you.

And if the game itself isn’t enough reason to keep coming back, perhaps you’ll find yourself hooked on the class upgrade system. New weapons and gadgets can be unlocked, as well as little perks to give you an edge in the fight. Those familiar with Call of Duty (And at this point who isn’t?) will be right at home with the system that rewards players for completing small challenges as well as winning games or simply playing well and getting a lot of kills. (ign)

Published by: Electronic Arts
Developed by: Digital Illusions CE (DICE)
Genre: First-Person Shooter
Number of Players: 1-24
Release Date: US: August 30, 2010
MSRP: $59.99
M for Mature: Blood, Strong Language, Violence
Also Available On: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3


Assassin’s Creed: Altair’s Chronicles should look somewhat familiar to you. It was released in 2008 on the Nintendo DS and in 2009 for iPhone. And now Gameloft has ported the adventure to Android.

If you were a fan of Ubisoft’s ambitious Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 production, you know the set-up. An assassin named Altair is scouring the Holy Land for the means to bring down the Templar knights, an organization with sinister designs on the world in this narrative. The iPhone game serves as a prequel to the console game. Altair is in search of a specific artifact called “The Chalice,” which possibly has the power to bring the ugly Crusades to an early, merciful end. But seeking this relic raises more questions than it answers, setting up the console game, which I consider to have one of the best fictions in videogames in quite some time despite its uneven game mechanics.

As Altair, you must use your stealth abilities to seek the Chalice. The rooftops, awning, and beams that stretch across the grand cities of the medieval Holy Land are your playground. Careful movement above the sandy streets will keep you out of harm’s way for the most part, although occasionally you must descend to the avenues below and draw blood. Altair has a sword that can be upgraded, but there are other devices and items he uses in his quest, such as a grappling hook and bombs. Altair’s signature weapon, though, is his hidden dagger that is used to silently execute enemies and not raise the alarm of dozens of guards and Templar reinforcements.

As you explore the Holy Land, you will pick up hundreds of blue orbs that can be traded in for upgrades, such as expanding Altair’s health bar or the aforementioned sword. Personally, I tended to lean on sword upgrades because I wanted to make sure I could overpower enemies in any combat situation. I would accidentally blow a stealth situation by walking through a crowd too fast or stumble off a rooftop and land on the street below, just within striking distance of a Templar.

Naturally, this raises the issue of control. I think the control stick here is a little looser which does prevent absolute precision and will cause occasional mishaps, but for the most part, I really don’t have any major problems with how the game handles. The combat buttons work great, although the shield button placement over by the control stick is awkward. While there are some automated actions, like scrambling up a wall, I do wish that some small jumps were also self-propelled. The jump button works without a problem, but an auto-jump would help casual gamers by taking one less button out of the mix.

One feature in Assassin’s Creed I do not care for, though, are the minigames. I think they are pointless holdovers from the DS version. They felt tacked-on back then, like Gameloft was trying to integrate the DS touchscreen some way… any way. They don’t fare much better here. They function, but add nothing to the overall game. They feel gimmicky in a game that needs no gimmicks.

As mentioned earlier in the review, Assassin’s Creed looks fantastic. Everything — from the textures on Altair’s robes to the crackling fire effects — is brighter, crisper, and more detailed in this edition of the game versus the DS. However, Assassin’s Creed is not necessarily the smoothest play on a Droid. There is some framerate chugging here and there that mars the experience. However, some users have mentioned that Creed runs better on newer handsets. (ign)

Published by: Gameloft
Developed by: Gameloft
Genre: Action
Release Date: US: September 13, 2010
Also Available On: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC,Wireless, iPhone, Android
Also known as: Assassin’s Creed

Sonic Adventure Review

Posted: September 16, 2010 in Playstation 3, XBOX 360
Tags: , , ,

I was always a SEGA kid. Sure, A Link to the Past is at the top of my all-time list, and I felt a guilty thrill cheating on my Genesis as I played through Super Metroid, but my fondest 16 bit memories were of games like Sub-Terrania…and Sonic the Hedgehog. I remember counting the minutes ’til junior high school was out so I could rush home and play through Sonic 2. I’ll even still get involved in semi-heated Genesis vs. SNES arguments with friends for fun from time to time. I bought a Dreamcast on launch day, driving all over San Diego to find first a system, then a game, then yet another store still to buy a VMU. I bought Sonic Adventure a few days later, and I convinced myself that it was flawed but great.

I was wrong. Sonic Adventure for XBLA and PSN has successfully driven a stake through the heart of my combined nostalgia/Dreamcast launch blinders/residual SEGA fanboyism. Everything from the original release is in there, from fishing mini-games to Chao raising to awful voice acting, like an evidence folder in a trial against what you thought was ostensibly the Dreamcast’s flagship launch title.

The gameplay shifts between 3rd person, behind the hedgehog running, which doesn’t control very well, and 2D side-scrolling sections here and there which control marginally better (since you’re pretty much just holding forward and hitting the jump button). Enemies and bosses are dispatched by rolling through them, bouncing off them, or boosting through them, but Sonic has always been more about lightning fast platforming than kicking enemies’ collective asses. When Sonic Adventure released, the graphics were amazing, and the sense of speed was unmatched.

The game was so fast, in fact, that you probably didn’t even realize how broken it actually is. Sonic Adventure is so fundamentally flawed that it borders on unplayable – the sections that move the fastest, that work most, that are even slightly interesting, require the least input from the player. In fact, in many of these sections, input from the player will result in death or catastrophe, and there’s really no way to know which until you either fly through not completely sure what happened or die, also not completely sure what happened.

This is, of course, when the camera is working — which is about half of the time. There are not enough expletives in the collected languages of humankind to express how broken the camera in Sonic Adventure is (and I am very familiar with profanity). You might hear people talk about games where the camera seems to get “caught on something,” but in Sonic Adventure it’s like the camera is hanging onto random objects for dear life. Its negligence becomes more homicidal as the level design leans toward the punitive side near the end of the game, but it’s always lurking, waiting for a chance to block your view (often by showing the inside of a character model or game object).

The controls themselves are another failure. Sonic and co. maneuver poorly, even at slow speeds, and there are bizarre collision detection rules in place that will cause you to become caught in bizarre invisible traps that require some frantic thumbstick jerking to break free of. This extends elsewhere throughout the game, as the world itself seems fragile and pitted with holes in its reality. I fell through floors, was catapulted outside of the game world, and generally murdered without warning or explanation by failures in Sonic Adventure’s ability to hold itself together repeatedly. And this isn’t counting the times the camera literally broke free of the game world itself to exist outside of the engine’s geometry.

All of this presumes that you can actually figure out how to get to the next action stage. Sonic Adventure has an overworld – or an Adventure World, rather – that features some mild platforming and pronounced frustration. Characters control even worse in Adventure areas than they do in Action stages, as you’ll be walking most of the time, rather than running as fast as possible. Action stages are difficult to find — they’re entirely reliant on paying depressingly close attention to Sonic Adventure’s painful cutscenes and dialogue for esoteric clues as to your next destination. You’ll be just as likely to stumble on the next nonsense “key” to the Adventure area that holds your next Action stage.

If you think that paragraph is confusing, Sonic Adventure will make you feel like you’re stuck in Groundhog Day by comparison.

The bulk of your time will be spent playing through Sonic’s campaign. But as you play, you’ll meet various, er, pals from Sonic’s menagerie, including Amy, Tails, and Knuckles, which you can then guide through their own little journeys through the horrors of broken 3D platforming. Each character has their own wrinkle or drastic departure from the game’s primary mechanics — Tails hovers, E102 shoots, Amy…wields a giant hammer, Big the Cat fishes, and Knuckles glides and punches. Unfortunately, all of these new mechanics are even less functional than the broken platforming of the main adventure.

While it’s difficult to comment on whether the game feels more broken in downloadable arcade form than it did for its US release on the Dreamcast, there is an unmistakeably rushed and shoddy air to the presentation of the port. It’s as barebones as can be, with hideous menus, no widescreen support, and an options menu that forgets your camera settings once you exit the game. Performance is good, at least, as I can’t remember any point where the game dropped below 60FPS.

Sonic Adventure, in hindsight, feels like a game thrown together in a panic, held together by spectacle and the fervent wishes of SEGA fans for a proper return to form for Sonic and SEGA. Unfortunately, spectacle has a short half life, and Sonic Adventure’s basic design and gameplay fall apart under scrutiny. Playing Sonic Adventure for the first time in 11 years, after returning to the franchise a few times over the last decade, I’ve realized that the great tragedy about Sonic games isn’t that they’ve gotten worse over two console generations — they just haven’t gotten appreciably better. (ign)

  • Published by: SEGA
  • Developed by: Sonic Team
  • Genre: Platformer
  • Number of Players: 1
  • Release Date: US: Q3 2010 , Japan: Q3 2010
  • E for Everyone: Animated Violence
  • Also Available On: Dreamcast, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

UFC Undisputed 2010 (PSP)

Posted: September 16, 2010 in Playstation 3, PSP, XBOX 360
Tags: , , ,

UFC Undisputed 2010 on PSP is going to be an interesting case study. Here, you have a portable port of a big budget PlayStation 3/Xbox 360 game. The fighters, modes, and options you’d expect from those versions have been carried over to the PSP, and from a broad perspective the transition went smoothly. Still, this version is four months old and missing the polish that made the console games shine. Plus, in reality, if you were the world’s biggest UFC fan, chances are that you’ve already played this game in one of its other incarnations.

However, I can tell you that this game is good.

Sweep the leg!

If you’re just joining us, UFC Undisputed 2010 is THQ’s latest take on the sport that Dana White built. Pick up this UMD (there’s not a downloadable version at the moment) and you’re getting more than 100 fighters, a slew of stadiums, and a bunch of modes. You can square off in exhibition matches and even take on your friends via ad-hoc mode, guide a created fighter through a career, or relive/rewrite a classic UFC bout.

All of that’s great, but how does it play? You figure mixed martial arts is a complicated sport and UFC games have always packed a complicated control scheme to mimic that. The PSP version, of course, has to drop an analog stick and two shoulder buttons out of the console control scheme, and that could easily turn into a disaster. Luckily, it works. You strike and kick with the face buttons and modify those moves with the shoulder buttons while the analog nub clinches, grapples, and transitions you from one mount to another.

Of course, moving with the D-Pad and then having to drop your thumb to the analog nub for moves is a bit of a pain, but it doesn’t throw off the pacing of fights. The bouts seem balanced and I’ve actually been using the ground game and takedown system a lot more than I did in the console versions. This boiled down control scheme actually makes it easier to do more in the Octagon. I feel like I have a handle on the action — for the most part. I still find myself flicking the stick like a madman to try and get out of holds or regain control of the situation, but the game seems like it gives me a chance to figure everything out. It feels good.

Put in the work here so you don't get KO'd.

Once I got the hang of the controls, I started taking in the visuals of UFC Undisputed 2010 on the PSP. I was pleasantly surprised by the how good the game looks. UFC Undisputed 2010’s defining characteristic on the other platforms is how realistic it looks, and that visual love is carried over here as best it can be. Obviously, the PSP game isn’t as slick or detailed as the console counterparts, but the fighters do look good. They move realistically, bloody wounds will pop up, and you’ll have no trouble identifying your favorite fighter from a glance at the screen.

In motion, things can be a bit less impressive. Punches and grapples will occasionally clip through the opponent, and the presentation isn’t really up to snuff. The screen goes black and white when you’ve dazed a fighter, but the sound drops out and it becomes too quiet. The knockout post-round and post-match replays are super-quick flashes of ho-hum moments, and I’ve had matches end in flash KOs where the opponent didn’t fall down — I just hit him in the jaw and the bell rang.

What made the other versions of UFC rock was the TV-style presentation. Name bars and stats pop up on the PSP sporting the colors and fonts you know from the real show, but there’s no announcing and the fights feel a bit flat without Joe Rogan screaming in your ear. The crowd noise isn’t very reactive and it doesn’t sell the feel of the main event. On top of that, the loads are a bit long here. They’re not terrible, but hopping between matches and options screens will take some time — even with the optional install.

They look pretty good, right?

If you’re looking for features, you’re getting your fair share here inUFC Undisputed 2010 (they are all exactly the same as the stuff we saw in the other versions), but I find most of them too similar. Exhibition lets you pick a fighter and fight someone, ad-hoc lets you square off against a local friend, Title mode lets you chase a championship in a series of fights, and then Title Defense mode lets you defend the belt you just won. That’s all kind of the same, you know?

Shaking things up are Ultimate Fights Mode and Career Mode. Ultimate Fights gives you 15 classic bouts and asks you to relive them or rewrite them. You pick a competitor and get a series of objectives (recover from a knockdown, win by decision, etc.) that you need to complete in the upcoming fight. Pull them off and you get rewarded (there is plenty to unlock in this game in the way of clothes, trading cards, and so on); fail, and you get chastised by the sexy UFC Octagon girls. If you’re a fan, there’s some appeal to this mode, but if you don’t remember the matches it doesn’t bring much to the table.

Career on the other hand brings a lot no matter your level of UFC knowledge. You’ll create a character (it’s basic but functional) and start off as an amateur fighter. Hone your skills, go pro, and soon you’ll accept an offer from Dana White and become part of the UFC. You’ll work your way up the ladder of success, but the real work is done in between bouts as you train (improving your strength, speed, and cardio), spar (improving your attributes), and accept camp invites (allowing you to learn new moves).

Stop! Stop! He's already dead.

The system’s complicated and deep — if you want a full breakdown, check out this 360 preview and imagine it’s on the PSP because it basically is — and it is cool to build a fighter from nothing to something that fits your specific play style. The trouble is, the mode is pretty repetitive. You’re going to get used to seeing those menu screens over and over again, and there isn’t much variation throughout the years of your career. You never look any older, you’re occasionally interrupted by new sponsors, and so on. (ign)

Published by: THQ
Developed by: Yuke’s Media Creations
Genre: Fighting
Number of Players: 1-2
Release Date: US: September 7, 2010
MSRP: $39.99
T for Teen: Blood, Language, Mild Suggestive Themes, Violence
Also Available On: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Also known as: UFC 2010

We’re still a couple days away from the PlayStation Move’s September 19 launch date, but hey — who said Best Buy has to follow the rules? One of our readers picked up a Move at a Best Buy in Benton Harbor, Michigan today, and we’d expect the trickle to turn into a flood by the time the “official” launch finally arrives. So — who’s buying one? (engadget)

Sure, you can jailbreak a PS3 using a USB drive, or even a Palm Pre or Nokia N900 — but isn’t that a little too straightforward? Jailbreaking a PS3 with a TI-84 Plus calculator, on the other hand; well, that’s more like it. Still skeptical? Head on past the break for the video evidence, and hit up the source link below for the necessary details to perform the feat yourself. And don’t worry — no calculators were harmed in the making of this exploit. (engadget)

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Dragon Age: Origins Witch Hunt (PC)

Posted: September 11, 2010 in Arcade, PC, Playstation 3
Tags: , , ,

Those hoping for some sort of satisfying closure on the Morrigan storyline in Dragon Age: Origins unfortunately won’t find it here. If you know what that sentence means and find it to be disappointing, then you’re the target audience for this downloadable content. If you have no idea who Morrigan is and why you should care about her exploits, then bail out now. This content is meant for those who have either finished Origins or were too lazy to get through the whole thing and are beyond the point of caring about spoilers.

Combat and conversation should be familiar to any Dragon Age player at this point, and through the various short dungeons visited you’ll find a few mechanics at work to keep the conflict from becoming stale. In the basement of the Circle Tower, for example, you fight guardians that won’t die permanently unless you disperse rips in the Veil that periodically appear on the battlefield. Later on you’ll use a magical light-tracking system to uncover hidden Elven relics, and at one point have to run around the Circle Tower’s library tracking down the appropriate books by using index cards. Ok so that last part really wasn’t very exciting, but in general the combat works well, mostly because it’s the same as you’re used to. A boss battle has been included in final part of Witch Hunt, this time against a creature that resembles a cross between a bat, a spider, and a tree branch. It’s called a Strider, it’s fearsome, and you’ll be seeing more of it in the sequel so it’s cool to get a bit of a preview here. There are also dragons, which is appropriate.

Throughout the characterization is quite strong, as Ariane and Finn wind up talking to each other and your dog quite a bit. It injects humor into the adventure as Ariane makes fun of Finn’s name, or when Finn comments on why the dog decided to relieve itself on an object of interest in the Circle Tower’s basement. Expect a number of interactive conversations where you can select things to say, which helps make the tale seem more significant. There’s enough to kill in here to level up at least once, and you can also buy, sell and enchant at a vendor, in this case Sandal, who fans may be more annoyed than glad to see return.

Considering Dragon Age 2 is following along with a different main character, it’s difficult to say what how what happens in Witch Hunt connects with anything else in the future. As you’ll see at the ending, there’s a choice that needs to be made that potentially has serious consequences, though something tells me it’ll all be smoothed over should you ever encounter Morrigan again. (ign)

  • Published by: Electronic Arts
  • Developed by: BioWare
  • Genre: RPG
  • Release Date:US: September 7, 2010
  • MSRP: $7.00
  • M for Mature: Blood, Intense Violence, Language, Partial Nudity, Sexual Content
  • Also Available On: PC, PlayStation 3, Arcade
  • Also known as: Dragon Age: Witch Hunt

It’s been just two weeks since Mafia II stormed stores across the nation, but it’s already time for its first batch of multiplatform downloadable content. Mafia II: Jimmy’s Vendetta picks up the story of — you guessed it — Jimmy, a wise guy who used to be a go-to guy but was double crossed and tossed into jail. If you played the PlayStation 3 exclusive “Betrayal of Jimmy,” this picks up where that left off. If you didn’t, you don’t have to sweat it as the missions you’re about to embark on aren’t really story-driven.

Whereas the game you know from the Mafia II disc follows the story of Vito and his best friend Joe, Jimmy’s Vendetta is a $9.99 download that packs 30 arcade-style missions for you to jump into from the game’s main menu. What’s an arcade mission in the Mafia world? Well, you’ll roll up to a floating icon, accept the mission, and a timer starts. You have to finish the job before the timer ends, and as you fly around Empire Bay blowing dudes away, you’ll bank points for headshots, kills, speeding, and more. Complete the quest, and all that action is boiled down into a score and letter ranking.

There’s a bit of story to this — an opening cutscene recaps the basics of who Jimmy is and each mission begins with a paragraph about why you’re about to do what you’re doing, but for the most part these tasks are bite-sized versions of the Mafia II gameplay. That’s all you need to know. Drive over there and kill a bunch of fur thieves, steal this certain car and get it to the docks, and blow up these marked gas trucks.

This focus on gameplay is a nice change of pace as the missions in Vito’s Mafia II story almost seemed like filler between cutscenes. When I was playing as Vito, I was trying to polish off a section of his life and get to the next bit of story. In Jimmy’s world, the missions are the sole focus and I found myself fooling around a bit more — I run from police rather than trying to play it straight, I fire my guns into crowds of people, and I crash rides just for the hell of it. This feels more sandboxy than the “real” Mafia II game because the missions are so short here you don’t have to worry about screwing something up late in the game and getting stuck with a terrible checkpoint.

I just play here.

That’s not to say Jimmy’s Vendetta is perfect. The majority of the issues I had with Mafia II are still here: it’s a run-of-the-mill third-person shooter. The animations are wooden, the fist fighting is way too simple, the aiming with weapons isn’t satisfying, and you only have one or two missions available on your map at anytime so it isn’t really a world where you can do whatever you want. Making matters worse is that I usually found the two available missions spread out on opposite sides of the map. I’d finish one and then have to drive across the whole of the map to get another. If you ask me, this is a cheap way to make the missions longer and make it seem like you’re getting more out of this download. It makes some of the quests boring or frustrating (there’s nothing worse than driving three-fourths of the way there and killing yourself in a car accident).

Get out.

Get out.

The missions themselves run the gamut from being an enjoyable breeze to being a complete bitch. It is cool to drive up, climb out, shotgun two guys, and complete the mission, but things can get tough. The difficulty spikes are rare, but I found myself shouting obscenities at the TV more than once as seven Irishmen would surround me out of the blue or my car would get flipped just as I saw the finish line in a mission. Then, there are the missions where the game’s own bonehead AI steps up. In one, I had to destroy a couple of gas stations. As I pulled up to both of these places, the enemies began firing from the other side of the gas pumps, blew the place up on their own, and I got the credit. (ign)

  • Published by: 2K Games

  • Developed by: 2K Czech

  • Genre: Action

  • Release Date: US: September 7, 2010

  • MSRP: $9.99

  • M for Mature: Blood, Intense Violence Nudity, Sexual Content, Strong Language, Use of Drugs and Alcohol

  • Also Available On: Xbox 360, PC, PlayStation 3

PlayStation Move hits store shelves on September 19th, and Sony has announced an eclectic collection of internally produced launch titles to go along with it. But non-Sony developers are working on Move experiences, too, and they’ll begin trickling in soon after launch. One of the higher profile Move applications is an upcoming patch for Resident Evil 5: Gold Edition that adds a motion control option for Capcom’s action shooter on the Move’s launch day.

I reviewed Resident Evil 5 when it was released in 2009, and I had a blast doing it. I appreciated it as an action game, but I understood the complaints from hardcore Resident Evil fans that it took the series away from its highly staged, claustrophobic, survival-horror roots. But that’s what I liked about it. It was different. It was frantic and intense, and I loved the fact that I could use a dual-analog controller with a Resident Evil game.

Despite my stubborn affinity for the standard Resident Evil 5 control scheme, I was optimistic that PlayStation Move would suck me back into a game I’ve already completed multiple times.

A quick word of warning: I’m about to unload a string of nerdy button nomenclature on you. If you’re not quite sure how the Move system works and what it includes, check out this handyPlayStation Move Guide to get caught up on the tech.

Getting started with Move in RE5 is a relatively simple process. Just sync up the Move wand and Navigation controller, and you’ll see two new control schemes available in the Options menu: ‘Motion A’ and ‘Motion B’. Both are actually quite similar, with one main difference: quick-turning. My experience with this small but crucial function using the PlayStation Move was a crash course in the sometimes confounding layout of the two controllers. For some reason, both units (wand and Navigation) have both an X and a Circle button, which can be confusing at first. All of the shape buttons on the Move controllers are also incredibly tiny, which can make them hard to find by feel, at least when you’re first getting used to the system.

Resident Evil 5’s default ‘Motion A’ scheme maps the quick-turn to the wand’s X button, which makes zero sense to me because it puts the directional movement (left stick) and the actual quick-turn button (X) on two different hands. The ‘Motion B’ scheme maps the quick-turn button to L2, putting both actions on the Navigation controller. After using the ‘B’ scheme for a few minutes, I never went back to ‘A’. Unfortunately, that nitpick isn’t my only issue with Resident Evil 5’s Move controls. The larger problem is with the camera system.

Resident Evil 5 (Gold Edition) Picture

To move your character with the Move system, you use the left stick. To move the camera, well, you really don’t. In order to look somewhere other than straight ahead, you’ll have to hold down the T button (trigger) on the Move wand and then wave the wand around while standing still. But when your reticule reaches the edges of the screen, it stops, and you can’t rotate your view any further. In order to do that, you need to move the left stick (the one you were just using to move your character around a second ago). It’s an utterly strange and unintuitive setup.

What’s more, when you actually decide to shoot something, you realize the fire button isn’t on the trigger button, it’s on the Move button. It works, but it just feels weak. The whole point of putting a wand with a trigger in someone’s hand is to approximate the feel of a virtual weapon, right? So why put the fire button on top of the wand? No, it’s not the end of the world — and it works just fine — but it’s inelegant and clunky, as if the buttons were randomly assigned.

Although the button layout does get in the way of the experience, Resident Evil 5 does work with Move controls. Aiming is responsive, firing is satisfying, and it’s fun to whip the wand around and pull off headshots. Move-based quick-time events like shaking the wand to escape from grasping enemies brings a sense of visceral immediacy to the experience.

With the introduction of Move controls, Capcom and Sony succeeded in pulling me back into a game I’ve already completed multiple times. But mainly my experience with the Move controls made me want to play Resident Evil 5 again with a standard controller. Move is an interesting experiment, and I’m eager to see what happens with it in the months ahead. But it feels tacked onto Resident Evil 5.

In short, Move controls work with RE5, and although they’re not perfect by any means, I welcome the addition. After all, it’s being released as a free patch to everyone who owns Resident Evil 5: Gold Edition, so if you already have the game, you really have nothing to lose. Download the update, check it out, and see what you think. The more often developers try out new things with Move, the more useful the tech will become to gamers. (ign)

Published by: Capcom
Developed by: Capcom
Genre: Third-Person Action
Release Date: US: March 9, 2010 , Japan: Q2 2010
MSRP: $49.99
M for Mature: Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language
Also Available On: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Also known as: Resident Evil 5 Gold

Call of Duty: Black Ops for PC will ship with dedicated server support this November, but there’s a catch.

Activision and Treyarch studios announced it has partnered with to offer exclusive dedicated server rentals when the game launches.

“We are extremely excited about this unprecedented relationship with Activision to offer dedicated servers exclusively for Black Ops”, said GameServers CEO David Aninowsky. “We are placing a great amount of pressure on ourselves to ensure that we exceed any and all expectations.”

According to GameServers’ pre-order page, ranked servers will cost $14.95 a month for an 18 max player limit. Discounts are offered for monthly prepays. Unranked servers will cost $0.99 a month per player up to maximum of 24. Teamspeak support will have an additional fee. Discounts will be offered for a 3, 6, and 12 month prepay.

Treyarch Community Manager Josh Olin said this partnership will provide high-quality servers at an affordable rate for the game.

“If players want to run a dedicated Ranked or Unranked server on the PC, they will have to rent one through GameServers,” Olin told IGN. “Treyarch will be providing a fleet of ‘Day-1 Servers’ (through GameServers) which will be up and operational on November 9th.

“Nobody will have to rent a dedicated server through GameServers in order to play the game,” says Olin. “But for anybody who wants to run their own server, it will be run from”

Olin added that this partnership adds the advantage of much more effective anti-cheating and hacking moderation.

“If you rent a server, you will still have the ability to Kick, Ban, and Configure it the way you see fit,” Olin added. “Of course Ranked servers will have some set configurations that can’t be messed with; but you will still have the power to administrate your servers as a customer of GameServers.”

Call of Duty: Black Ops ships for PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 on November 9. (ign)

  • Published by: Activision
  • Developed by: Treyarch
  • Genre: First-Person Shooter
  • Release Date: US: November 9, 2010  , Japan: TBA 2010
  • MSRP: $59.99
  • RP-T+ for Rating Pending
  • Also Available On: Nintendo DS, Wireless, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3,  Wii, PC